Using voice over and dictation for a user who is blind and has limited manual mobility

macOS & Mac Apps
I have a friend who is blind and has very limited use of his hands. He's currently using JFW and Dragon with very little success. He knows I'm a Mac user and asked if the Mac can offer help to someone who uses both voice input and output. He does have an iPhone, so has some familiarity with voice over. I'd appreciate any help, tips, or experiences anyone can offer. Thanks in advance.



Submitted by mehgcap on Thursday, January 16, 2014

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
Dication on the Mac is a good, quick way to input text. However, it lacks the advanced features necessary for those using it exclusively. For instance, Dragon has several modes - text, numbers, command-only, and normal, so that is can listen for specific words and input them correctly. It also lets you teach it how you pronounce words, so that mistakes it makes at first eventually lessen as it learns how you talk. The Mac's dictation is not meant to be the only input on your mac, and so does not include these features. Speakable Items is also necessary to input commands. Applevis has a podcast covering setting up both Speakable items and Dictation, and you need both in order to operate the mac with speech alone. However, neither is perfect, and neither can replace a dedicated speech recognition engine like Dragon. There is a version of Dragon for the mac, but I have no idea about its accessibility. So, bottom line: look up that podcast and set everything up on your mac. Try using only speech for a while and see if your friend could manage it. I don't know his situation, and you do, so it may be perfectly workable for him. Set it up on your Mac first and evaluate thoroughly.

Submitted by Isaac Hebert (not verified) on Thursday, January 16, 2014

The mac does have dictation. If you go in to system preferences and go to dictation and speech you can enable dictation and then if you double press the function key you can dictate to you're mac.

Submitted by Luckydavid on Friday, February 20, 2015

I have a family member who is blind and we are having a hard time getting Dragon Dictate and VoiceOver to not step on each other. VoiceOver works well when using the keyboard, but when you open Dictate is starts "hearing" VoiceOver and things get messy very quickly. If VoiceOver is turned off right after opening Dragon Dictate, and turned back on when done using Dictate, it sort of works. The problem is that for straight dictation Dictate is better, far more accurate really. VoiceOver and "OSX Dictation" only do so much.